Activities For Large Family Dogs

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Introduction

Interactions between small children and canines of any size should always be supervised, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be boring. While many breeds of large dog are naturally quite gentle with children such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Golden Retriever, and the Newfoundland, other breeds, such as the Great Dane and the Weimaraner, may be well-intentioned, but their natural exuberance may result in bumps and falls, particularly when these dogs are going through their gawky adolescent growth phases. In order to avoid injury to either your child or your large dog, children should be taught not to play by wrestling and not to use their hands as toys. The activities listed below may help to keep both kids and canines entertained and occupied throughout the day.

Hide and Seek

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Normal
5 - 45 Minutes
Items needed
Toys
Reward
Activity description

Hide and seek can be an entertaining game to play with any age child or any size dog. This is a good activity for large dogs as it typically does not encourage the dog to get overly physical, preventing bumps and falls, and it provides the canine with a positive association with the presence of the child or children. This particular game may also come in handy if you have a young child who is particularly prone to wandering. While this game is simple enough for most any dog to enjoy, it can be made more complex by choosing more difficult hiding places, increasing the number of hiders, or by adding twists and obstacles to the game. 

Step
1
Choose a reward
While reaching for your dog’s favorite treats may be an automatic reaction when teaching your dog a new game or trick, it may not always be the best option for a reward as giving your dog too many treats may increase their caloric intake enough that they can start gaining too much weight. Many dogs will play this game for nothing more than the celebratory praise that they get when they find their target, but for those canines that need a little more encouragement, you can try tossing a ball or fetch toy as a reward or offering your pet a frozen Kong or another chew toy when they have met their goal.
Step
2
Pick a target
Initially, it is best to choose one specific person to hide each time. This choice can be made several ways; by simple agreement, by the drawing of straws, or even just by going in order by age. Once the dog has mastered finding one person at a time, you can start adding in additional people, even adding difficulty by requiring the dog to find one specific person out of several hiders. If the hider is very young, a parent or responsible adult should hide with the child or be within arms reach of the canine to ensure that all interactions are managed properly.
Step
3
The game's afoot!
Once the reward and the target are clearly established in your mind, it is time to start playing the game. While your pup is first learning the game it may be best to start your target off with simple spots that may be partially visible, gradually increasing the difficulty of the hiding spots as the dog’s skill increases. Younger children should be encouraged to find hiding spots in which they can safely stand when they play hide and seek with large dogs, particularly when those dogs are still going through their clumsy adolescent phase, in order to prevent accidental bumps and bruises.
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Pick Up Toys

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Any Day
Free
Normal
5 - 45 Minutes
Items needed
Dog Toys
Toybox for Dog Toys
Clicker
Activity description

 In many cases, our canine companions have toyboxes full of chew toys, stuffed animals designed for dogs, rope toys, and fetch toys, and without training they naturally just leave them on the floor where they were last using them. Human children are not the only ones who are able to pick up after themselves, however, and it is often relatively easy to convince most dogs to pick up their toys and put them in a toy box, especially compared with teaching kids to do the same thing! This activity not only exercises your canine companion’s mind, it may help to encourage your children to pick up after themselves as well. 

Step
1
What's a clicker?
A clicker is a small handheld device that uses a clicking sound to mark when your dog has done something correctly. The entire job of the clicker is to make the clicking sound when you press it; it is your job as a trainer to ensure that your dog associates that noise with a food reward. If you ensure that your dog gets a high value treat every time the clicker clicks, it won’t be long at all before the idea is cemented in their mind.
Step
2
Fetch and drop
The training for this exercise typically starts with a game of fetch with you tossing the toy then clicking the clicker when the dog returns it to you. Once your dog is reliably bringing the item back to you, it is time to introduce the box by positioning yourself on the other side of the box from your dog so they have to reach over it to give you the toy. When they have their head over the box, give your command (toybox, clean up, or pick up) and click the clicker. This will typically cause them to drop the toy into the box, at which point they should be rewarded again.
Step
3
Go the distance
Once your dog has the basic idea down, you can start moving away from the toy box, so that your dog understands that you want them to put the toy in the box when you give the command, even if you are not at the box yourself. Once your dog is reliably performing this action, you can even organize competitions between the kids and the dog, rewarding the kids if they are faster at picking up their toys or doing other short chores than the dog is at picking up their toys. (The dog always gets a reward.)
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Photoshoot

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
30 - 90 Minutes
Items needed
Dog
Camera
Sense of Humor
Activity description

Gathering up your family, both two and four-legged and setting up an impromptu photoshoot can be a lot of fun and a great way to bond. While there are photo studios who will take pictures of your family and your dog for you, for many people there is a greater sense of satisfaction when looking back on pictures that they took themselves. Dogs are an important part of our families and when we are raised with dogs in our homes they often play huge roles in our emotional development. While this activity can be a lot of fun to do, its greatest value is often not seen until decades later.

Step
1
Pick your locale
Families who like to enjoy being active in nature and prefer to take their own pictures may choose a spot along a favorite hiking trail or at another favorite nature spot, while families that tend to spend their time at home may choose to take the photographs in their own back yard or at the local park. Photographs can also be taken in the home itself, and if you prefer to have someone else snap the pictures, there are many portrait studios that can accommodate you.
Step
2
Get everyone involved
Get everyone involved in picking the perfect spot to take the picture, in finding what ever props will enhance the photography, and sometimes even in taking the pictures as well. Take photos of people and pets at rest and in action, posed and candid. If your children are past the toddler stage, but are still fairly young, they may even enjoy getting a disposable cameras of their own with which they can take pictures from their unique perspective. Just don’t hand the camera to the dog and don’t lose your sense of humor.
Step
3
Reminisce
Photographs are an important way for people to preserve their memories and reminisce with one another. While canines may not gravitate towards looking at photography when left to their own devices, studies do indicate that they are able to recognize our faces from photographs so while we don’t yet have a clear understanding of how the canine mind works when it comes to memory we do know that looking at photographs sparks some sort of recognition in their minds, providing a source of mental stimulation.
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More Fun Ideas...

Backyard Bubbles

Most of us remember the wonder of watching delicate spheres of soap floating into the sky and the joy of chasing a popping the bubbles, made all the more enjoyable by the unpredictable way that the bubbles moved through the air. Your dog will feel the same sense of joy when they are twisting, running, and jumping - trying to catch the elusive bubbles. Because dogs tend to catch the bubbles with their mouths rather than their paws, it may be best to use a homemade bubble solution made with non-toxic, pet safe soap, or to buy bubbles specifically formulated for canine use. 

Geocaching

Geocaching is a worldwide outdoor treasure hunt where people use GPS tracking technology combined with skill and experience to locate containers filled with random surprises, and then add new surprises for the next player. Your dog will have a great time in the outdoors helping you find the elusive containers of goodies. Don't forget to add something fun, appropriate for all ages, and non-food related, in the cache for the next player.

Conclusion

Canines large and small require exposure to new activities and regular play sessions in order to maintain their physical and mental fitness. The activities listed here are designed to be fun for both canine and your family, but they also help to foster the bond with your canine and encourage your dogs critical thinking skills. Games that can include the entire family are an excellent way to encourage the development of bonding and empathy for both child and canine and can even teach them to work with others more effectively.